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Full text of "First Annual Report of the Committee on Genealogy and heraldry"

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pirst eAnr\ual I^ejDort 



— OF THE- 



SoFiQFiraiUee en ©encalogtj and ^cpaldpg. 



To ike Historical Society of Southern California: 

We, the undersigned, your Committee on Genealogy and Her- 
aldry, hereby submit our first annual report. 

We find by the minutes of April i, 1889, that on motion, a 
committee was constituted onheraldry and genealogy in accordance 
with the following resolution: 

"Resolved, That a Committee on Genealog>' and Heraldry be 
added to the list of the regular standing committees of the society, 
and that the President be authorized to appoint two members of the 
society on the said committee. ' ' 

No report was made for the year 1889, as the work was compara- 
tively new to members of the committee; nevertheless, some pre- 
liminary w^ork was done, especially in the department of heraldry. 

As many do not see the utility of the creation of this depart- 
ment of historical work in our society, we herewith present 
what we consider some valid reasons for the same. Historical work 
generally includes the public events of the world, and deals little 
with even the great personages of its dramas, unless it be to 
occasionally and briefly present a biography. The reason for this 
may be what Macaulay terms the ' 'perspective of history. ' ' Regard- 
ing time as a picture, individuals would naturally disappear in the 
dim distance of the receding past before nations, the larger bodies, 
would vanish. 

The study of the history of nations is always recommended for 
the reason that the coming generations can profit by the history of 
those past. How often is the history of the ancient Roman repub- 
lic, with its concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few 
preceding its downfall, held up as a warning to our American 
republic to avoid a like fate! If nations can thus receive benefit from 
the history of nations, why may not individuals likewise receive 
benefit from the history of individuals, and particularly from the 
line of their own descent? 



28 Report of the Committee on Genealogy and Heraldry. 

The principal cause for the neglect of the study of genealogy 
and its companion — heraldry — on this continent undoubtedly 
sprang from the extreme American antipathy to everj'thing English, 
a strong sentiment created by the Revolution. But of late years 
there has been a remarkable revulsion of feeling on this point, and 
everywhere, particularly in the Atlantic States, people are looking 
up their genealogies. Old bibles are being opened, family papers 
looked up, public records searched, and even tombstones are 
carefully scrutinized for a missing date or coat of arms. The 
number of family histories published in America within the past 
twenty years reaches into the thousands. Several societies and 
publishing houses are wholly devoted to this line of research; 
notable among the former are the Huguenot Society of New York, 
the New York Genealogical Society, and the Rhode Island Gene- 
alogical Society, the last named .society having published several 
large volumes. Joel Munsell's Sons of Albanjs N. Y., is one of 
the oldest publishing houses in this line, Mr. Joel Munsell having 
been in the business over forty years ago. There are several east- 
ern magazines devoted wholly to genealogical subjects. 

Their research has gone not onlj- to American evidence, but 
they have crossed the Atlantic ocean, and the archives of Great 
Britain, Holland, Germany and France have yielded rich treasures 
of knowledge on questions of American genealogy. Already have 
the names of each and ever)' British immigrant to America previous 
to the year A. D. 1700 been secured and published, and it is to be 
hoped that H will not be long before the list will be brought down 
to the year 1 800. 

The formation of certain American societies makes genealogical 
lore valuable. The Order of the Cincinnati was composed at first 
of the commissioned officers of the Revolutionary army. It is still 
kept alive by admitting the oldest male heir of each original mem- 
ber. The Society of California Pioneers has founded the Junior 
Pioneers, admitting thereto only the descendants of its own mem- 
bers. The Grand Army of the Republic, composed solely of Union 
soldiers of the Rebellion, has a similar organization in the Sons of 
Veterans, whose name indicates the character of its membership. 
The Military Order of the Loyal Legion, composed only of com- 
missioned officers of the Union army in the Rebellion, has rules 
in this regard, similar to the Order of the Cincinnati. 

The study of genealogy is not only a pleasing gratification of a 
laudable curiosity, but it is an incentive to patriotism, and increases 
family love and pride and veneration for our ancestors, and thus, 
as Macaulay says, entitles us to the respect and remembrance of 



Report of the Committee on Genealogy and Heraldry. 29 

our posterity. Who is there among us who will not feel more 
firmly bound to his country .if he knows that he had a great-grand- 
father who fought in the Revolution, a grandfather who bore arms 
ia 181 2, and a father who went to the front in the Rebellion? 
Already through the brief investigations of this committee, not 
only have long-separated branches of families been pleasantly re- 
united but communication has been re-established between other 
branches who had lost all trace of each other for nearly two hun- 
dred years. 

There is another, and perhaps the greatest, benefit to be derived 
from a careful study of genealogy, and that is a revival of the 
science of stirpiculture. Application being made to a famous 
horse-breeder of Kentucky for some information about his ancestry , 
he replied, "Why I know more about the pedigree of my horses than 
I do of my own," As if the genus liomo is of less importance than 
the genus equus! If "a sound mind dwells in a sound body," and 
the lower grades of the animal kingdom can be bred to such high 
degrees of physical superiority, reason urges that man, standing at 
the head of the animal kingdom, can likewise receive the benefit of 
the same laws, not applied with Spartan heroism but rationally 
and conservatively. The revival of physical training in our schools 
is certainly a step in that direction, and a right one, and, surely, if 
one knows the physical virtues and vices of his ancestors, he can 
at least direct the stream of his descent, so as, in a measure, to 
preserve the one and lose some of the other. These ideas are cer- 
tainly in accord with those of many learned writers on hygiene. 
Who knows but that here in America, where there is a grand re- 
mingling of the blood of the Ar>'an family — Kelts, Teutons, 
Sclavs, Latins and Greeks — there will yet be produced, by 
observance of these scientific laws, a grander grade of manhood 
than that of which our remote ancestors boasted upon the uplands 
of Asia? 

Nor is the art of heraldry to be despised. It is of the greatest 
assistance in the study of genealogy. The following is condensed 
fiom the London Encyclopedia as explanatory on the subject: 

Armorial ensigns are hereditary marks of honor made up of 
fixed and determined colors and figures, sometimes bestowed by 
sovereign princes as a reward for military valor or eminent public 
services. They also serve to denote the descent and alliance of 
the bearer, or to distinguish cities, societies, etc., whether civil, 
military or ecclesiastical. Arms were first used by commanders in 
war to distinguish their persons to their friends and followers. 
Homer, Ovid and Virgil relate that their heroes had divers figures 



30 Report of the Committee on Genealogy and Heraldry. 

on their shields whereby their persons were distinctlj' known. 
The samt is true of our American Indians. 

The origin of heraldrj' as an art must be referred to the times of 
Charlemagne and Frederick Barbarossa, since it commenced and 
increased under the feudal sj'stem. The hereditary arms of fami- 
lies did not begin till toward the close of the fourth century. 
Coats of arms first originated in the German tournaments, being a 
sort 'of livery made up of several lists (strips), fillets (threads or 
cords), or narrow pieces of stuff of various colors, w^hencecame the 
fess, the bend and the pale, indicating the manner in which those 
bands were originally worn; these being the most ancient charges 
of family arms, since those who had never been at tournaments 
wore no such marks of distinction. 

The adventurers who enlisted in the crusades also assumed 
several new figures formerly unknown in armorial ensigns, such as 
allerions, bezants, escallop-shells, martlets, etc. , but more particu- 
larly crosses of different colors and shapes, of which there are at 
least twenty-twQ varieties. 

The introduction of armorial bearings into England is referred 
to the second crusade in A. D. 1147. About 1189 the arms were 
usually depicted upon a small escutcheon and worn at the belt. 
King Richard I is the earliest instance of their being borne upon 
an ordinar>- shield, though thej- are found on seals of the seventh 
and eighth centuries. Heraldry, like most human inventions, was 
introduced and established gradually, and, after having been rude 
and unsettled for many ages, it was at least methodized and fixed 
by the crusades and tournaments. 

These marks are called arms because they were worn by mili- 
tary' mtn at war or tournaments. They are also called coats of 
arms btcause they were formerly worked upon coats worn over 
armor. There are nine different kinds, viz. , arms of 

1. Dominion, borne by emperors, kings and states. Under 
this head come the arms of the United States of America and of 
the State of California, although it must be admitted that the latter 
was not constructed with any regard to the rules of heraldry. 

2. Pretention, of a political division claimed by a king, etc. 

3. Concession, given by princes as a great reward. 

4. Community, of cities, societies, etc. The arms of the city of 
Los Angeles are argent charged with a bunch of mission 
grapes/r<7/>^r. Our historical society, not yet having incorporated,* 
has selected no seal, and it is to be hoped that when it does that 
some attention will be given 10 the laws governing the same. 



'Incorporated February 13, 1891, and selected for its Seal, the arms of f he United i 
quartered with Spain and Mexico: signlilcint of the three countries which have aaecee- 
■ively ruled Southern California. 



Report of the Committee on Genealogy and Heraldry. 31 

The seal should have the two striking characteristics of simplicity 
and appropriateness. 

5. Patronage, such arms of states, manors, etc. , as the governors, 
etc., add to their own. 

6. Family, belonging exclusively to certain families which none 
others have the right to assume. In Great Britain, violations of 
this law did render all articles bearing arms of families, and owned 
by persons not entitled to wear them, subject to seizure and 
confiscation by the earl marshal. Under the British law of 
primogeniture only the oldest male heir is allowed to use the full 
coat of arms of his ancestors together with the supporters, crest, 
and motto. The other male heirs may use the same but it must be 
charged with a difference, as a label, crescent, etc., of which there 
are some thirt\--six distinguishing "marks of cadency," as they are 
called. The female heirs and their descendant.s are entitled onl}' to 
the shield, and this must be of a lozenge shape for the female, but 
this is not held under the Scotch law. 

There are many families in Southern California, who, by right 
of descent, are entitled to coats of arms, and this committee would 
like to hear from all such, and receive copies of their coats and 
lineage. 

7. Alliance, added by marriage and quartered. 

8. Succession, added by inheritance and quartered. 

9. Assumptive, "taken by caprice," says the above ::ianied auth- 
ority, and, it might be added, without regard to "rhyme or reason." 
America, with all of its democracy of .sentiment, is, perhaps, more 
cursed with arms assumptive tlian any other countrj-. Where per- 
sons of no intellectual education and of obscure descent, become 
financially independent, their first impulse is to as-^^unie a coat of 
arms. Generally a book on peerage is consulted, and if a family is 
found of the same name, wh-ther related or not, their coat is at once 
dishonestly assumed, and blazoned on house, plate, carriage, lodge 
and liver>'; or a jewder is employed,who does the stealing by proxy 
or constructs a coat out of his own mind without regard to heraldic 
laws. As a consequence some funny things happen, as on the fa- 
cades of several prominent residences in this city there are coats of 
arms charged with a bend sinister. The bend sinister is a sign of il- 
legitimate descent, which the wealthy owners, perhaps both igno- 
rantly and innocently, publish to the world. 

We think it should be laid down as one of the cardinal rules of 
this society that no coat of arms should be recorded in our archives 
until the right of the claimant thereto has been fully established. 



32 Report of the Committte on Genealogy and Heraldry 

The number and names of genealogies filed by your committee 
the past year (1890) in your archives have been: 

1. The Weir family genealogy. 

2. The descent of George Butler Griffin from Jesse De Forrest, 
the founder of New York. 

3. The descent of Charles Putnam Fenner from John Putnam. 

4. Joshua Stephens' Family History. 

5. Clippings from the Richmond, Va., Critic. 

6. Family History of Hon. William Vandever. 

We invite all the members of the society to prepare and file 
with us their respective genealogies, and as many others as can be 
obtained. 

Respectfully submitted, 

B. A. Cecil-Stephens, Chairman. 
Geo. Butler Griffin, 
M. C. Westbrook, 
Los Angeles, January 5, 1891. Committee. 



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